Tiawan Saye Gongloe: The President Liberia Needs in 2023

Presidential candidate of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP),  Cllr. Taiwan Saye Gongloe

By S. Karweaye

The Presidential candidate of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP),  Cllr. Taiwan Saye Gongloe arrived back in Monrovia Sunday after a 14-day acquaintance tour in Nimba County.  Cllr. Gongloe’s tour took him to the major towns and villages in Nimba county including Sokopa, Kpein,  Neigbahyee, Gban,  Tunukpyee, Benekpalala, Gbeyee, Lao-Zao, Bunadin,  Zahn-Boiyee, Zahn-Bemon, Zahn-Bahnla, Blowee, Zahn-Duo, Duo-Tornwein, Kopea, Denaman. Zuluyee. Gbeiden. Kitoma. Sanniquellie. Dahn-Lorpa, Gboa-Darvoyee, Gehwee, Tiahyee, Borsonnoh, Sehyi-Geh,  Zolowee,  Gba-pa, Liagbala, Kinnon, Yarmi-Gbelee, Yarmi-Karnla, Yekepa-Camp 4, Sehkeinpa, Zor-Gorwee, Zor-Tappea, Zor-Goulay,  Karnplay, Loelay, Kpaieplay,  Lowlay, Veneyenglay, Baylehglay, Gbor-Wehplay, Gbor-Fiaplay, Geialay, Gweiplay-Bounla,  Bahn, Gbor-Payee, Gbor-Kpayee, Gbor-Zayglay, Gleah,  Bialatuo,  Beeplay, Gbarlay New Town, Gbarlay Old Town, Gbloulay, Nyarlay, Lepula,  Yao-Seblee,  Gonmanplay, Yor-Butuo, Yor-Buutuo,  Dianplay, Florlay, Glaarlay, Toweh's Town,  Zuatuo, Zuolay, Graie, Saoley,  Beatuo, Yorpea, Blewalay, Dubuzon, Nuoblee-1, Nuoblee-2, Kparblee, Zuodru,  Quepea, Gblordiala, Segbeh Town, Vahn Town, Kwendinm  Camp-1, Gwah's Town, Kpoweinm,  Zekepa, Kayee, Garnwee, Gleyee-Zorpea, Blaimeh, Mehnla,  Fleedin, Yansain, Gbanquoi, Sacleapea, Gbaryee-tro,  and Karnwe where he was besieged by ecstatic citizens as he discussed his “Better Liberia is Possible” agenda. 

Cllr. Gongloe’s presidential bid represents a rare chance for Liberia. Liberia ought to be rich: the country is endowed with natural resources, an abundance of water, plenty of fertile lands, and a young population. Yet about 51% of the people live in poverty, and 16% are in extreme poverty. The reasons why Liberia is rated among the top tenth poorest countries in the world are rotten politics, bad governance, and corruption. And by making this election about competence, character, and most important solution-driven ideas, Gongloe is promising to upend the old electoral calculus, which is based on horse trading to form majorities between politicians who gathered votes and get elected by mainly giving rice,  money, and scholarship to voters.

With his promises of cutting the cost of governance, tackling corruption and accountability through the rule of law, his broom movement is gaining support amongst the populace who are tired of a profligate political elite in the country. Gongloe’s bid for the presidency has excited parts of disillusioned electorates, who criticized the inability of politicians in the defunct Collaborating Political Party to forge a united front against the incumbent, president George Weah, and his CDC. Drawn by his record of honesty and integrity in the private and public sectors,  as well as Gongloe's frugal attitude, and his message of transforming Liberia for the better, the people are using him as a vehicle to channel their frustration with the Liberian system.  Gongloe isn't running just for himself, if you check online sentiment, you’ll see he’s running on behalf of the Liberian people. 

Gongloe faces George Weah, the 56-year-old current President of Liberia and candidate for the ruling  Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and Joseph Boakai, the  77-years  of former ruling Unity Party (UP), a former vice-president and serial presidential hopeful. Cllr. Gongloe is running on the ticket of the Liberian People's Party  (LPP), a party that played an important role in Liberia's struggle for social justice and democracy.  At 77, former vice president Boakai is hoping to preside over a nation that has a median age of 18 while president Weah, despite his government's massive failures, is hoping to get elected for the 2nd term.  

Cllr. Gongloe's overwhelming support among the voters in Nimba during his tour is a direct reaction to president Weah's term in office which has brought massive poverty,  unemployment, corruption, secret killings, etc to the Liberian people. It also signals our people believe that Gongloe is the most credible candidate based on his track record of service to the Liberian people.  The vocal support for Cllr. Gongloe traces its roots to his humility, honesty, and integrity over the past 45 years in the public and private sectors.  Gongloe, affectionately called “Poor Man Lawyer”, provided legal representation for journalists illegally arrested and detained by the government or held in contempt by courts (many of whom were in exile in the United States),  pro-democracy, media and human rights groups as well as NGOs.

As shown in his just-ended two weeks tour of towns and villages in Nimba county. Gongloe is not just a candidate for young people, he eventually is a candidate for elderly people. For all the enthusiasm surrounding Gongloe’'s candidacy, his path to the Executive, Liberia’s presidential residence, is littered with obstacles. No presidential candidate outside the main two parties  (Unity Party & Coalition for Democratic Party) has garnered more than 20 percent of the vote since 2005. Candidates need to earn more than 50% of the votes to be declared the winner, but  Gongloe has said he is undeterred. He insists, by contrast, his vision and experience could solve many of the country’s challenges. Cllr. Gongloe argues in Nimba that “the Liberian people need an alternative leader who does not say one thing and does something different. The Liberian people need an alternative leader who will not lie to them. The Liberian people need a leader whose income and sources of income will be known to the people at all times.” 

There are, of course, no guarantees that Gongloe would break the kleptocracy that is throttling Liberia. Liberia’s election system has a habit of electing crooks, murderers, and economic criminals to political office, but if Gongloe continues visiting towns and villages throughout the 15 countries until October, he would be the first politician in decades to show that a new sort of politics is possible in Liberia. If he keeps energizing rural and urban voters across the country’s main divides of religion, geography, and ethnicity, he may well redraw Liberia’s electoral map by 2023. 

At a time when our country contends with a faltering economy weak infrastructure, rising food insecurity, massive unemployment of the youth, insecurity in the country, etc., Gongloe told the masses in every town and village in Nimba that he intends to redirect the economy of Liberia towards self-sufficiency in food production, engaging in import substitution and value-added export promotion as well as expanding economic activities in the rural parts of Liberia by granting tax incentives to rural-based manufacturing. He argues the  2023 presidential election will be a choice between the old politics of plunder and corruption, and the new regime of honesty and public service. Gongloe’s acquaintance tour in Nimba County imbibes the spirit of patriotism. He has placed national interest above his interests because there must be Liberia as a country before there can be leaders to lead it.   His ten-point agendas guarantee victory for the Liberian people. 

Truth be told, Gongloe is a person who has worked selflessly for the Liberian people. As it stands now, the electorates are no longer interested in the political parties.  but in the antecedents of the candidates.  This time, they don’t want to hear well-drafted manifestos, all we want is a competent, credible, and capable person to succeed President George Weah in 2023. We have heard a lot of unfulfilled sermons of campaign promises by politicians and Liberians are tired of empty promises by politicians just to get elected into public offices. If you had occupied or occupied public office and others and you did not make a positive impact in the lives of the people as in the case of President Weah, our electorate won’t vote for you. Gongloe's campaign is issue-driven and he is telling the people of  Nimba county what he will do for the country and how he intends to accomplish them when he is elected as president. 

During his Nimba county tour, Gongloe lamented that the country is presently insecure, not unified, unproductive, and collapsing. According to him, going by the enormity of Liberia's problems, Liberians are not looking for a consensus candidate. They are looking forward to somebody, who will start solving the numerous challenges in the country. The majority of Liberia are unemployed, hence Gongloe told the gatherings it is a matter of urgent importance to create employment opportunities that will enable young men and women to be engaged after graduation.  Gongloe presented a forceful case for new leadership in Liberia. “I am strongly in the race, fully prepared for the contest. Continuing, he said, “You need to check my track record. I am a human rights lawyer. I have operated in the public and private sectors. I have been an Executive Assistant to the President, Solicitor General of Liberia, and Minister of Labor. That’s the record you need to check. You don’t need to ask me. Just check my trajectory. I believe I can transform Liberia for the better.”

Gongloe’s three-week tour of Nimba county was a forceful case for new leadership in Liberia. “I am strongly in the race, fully prepared for the contest”, he said. Besides, he said, if he wins the presidency next year, he will lead a government that will unite and serve the country and manage the nation’s resources effectively and efficiently. The zest with which Gongloe speaks about the envisioned “Better Liberia is Possible” under his leadership; the promise of fighting corruption and giving the country back to the real owners- the masses of the country, and the excruciating pain being experienced by the masses of Liberia, may have combined to swell support across  Nimba county for Tiawan Gongloe.

Undoubtedly, Liberia today is a broken nation.  We have high unemployment today and the worst problem a country can have is to have young people in their productive age doing nothing. There is a collapse in our health, education, agriculture, and security sectors. The 2023 election will be a game-changer, so we need to elect people with the capacity and competence to drive our country. We need a transformer, not a divider or corrupt leader anymore. Cllr. Gongloei’s track record speaks volumes of what he’s capable of doing. Deconstructing Gongloe’s promise to unite and transform Liberia, he spoke the truth. Liberians have lost faith in their elected leaders and institutions. Currently, there’s a huge disconnect between the leaders and the citizens. Someone needs to restore that trust. The country yearns for the performance of a leader and many  Liberians strongly believe that Gongloe’s victory in October would mean an end to public corruption, insecurity, poor governance, poverty, and all the negative things associated with a non-performing government.

Gongloe's attributes are not in doubt: Gongloe has a quick mind and the ability to articulate issues and proffer solutions as evidenced in his rural Liberia tour. . His performance as a human lawyer, solicitor general, minister of labor, and president of Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA)  is proof that he has the capacity, confidence, and willingness to deliver. “I am not aspiring for a political position, but for an opportunity to serve the Liberian people and transform Liberia.” Again, that’s a forceful case of a man of vision and thinker, not your usual politician who wants power for his advancement. And without a vision beyond one’s selfish gains, that person and the country are paralyzed once the goal has been achieved. That’s why Liberia has been heading in the wrong direction all these years. Gongloe has been tested and tried. He’s ethical and trustworthy. 

My ideal candidate is ethical, someone who has common sense, and someone who truly, genuinely cares about the masses through their actions over the decades/  A candidate who doesn’t judge based on what part of the country you are from and whose interest is to unite and not divide.  Someone who wants to bring an end to corruption, end to bad governance, and an end to poverty. I believe the candidate who, although not perfect, comes close to these ideals is Tiawan Saye Gongloe. 

My advice for Liberians,  as the political campaign commences next year is to remember your choice. Remember who it is that has your interest at heart. Someone who has character. Someone who cares about creating a better life for you and your family. Someone who cares about every Liberian citizen and wants to create more jobs and tackle insecurity. Don’t be swayed by political jingles and adverts. Vote your conscience. This is your future. This is your life. Make the right decision. I rest my case.